Proud2Bme | Body Policing: USC Sorority "Sisterly" Email

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Body Policing: USC Sorority "Sisterly" Email

By Ashley M. Williams--I never joined a sorority in college.

I was always asked if I was going to do so when I attended the University of Southern California, but never felt the urge to. Not that I think there is anything wrong with sororities, but it just wasn’t my scene.

As a student at USC, which has an active Greek life community, that was kind of unusual. It’s a huge thing at the university. They always have so many fun activities going on and it’s such a great way to meet people who could potentially become your friends for life.

I wasn't drawn to join, but for some people, not joining or getting in one of these makes them feel like a “nobody.”

Lately, I have to say that I am a little bit speechless about all the things going on with the sororities and fraternities these days. Every week it seems like another issue arises, from racist party chants to posting unconsensual photos on Facebook. As a USC grad, one issue that particularly caught my attention was a leaked email that a USC sorority sent to its Alpha Chi Omega members in 2013, and recently brought to light by an anonymous tipster. 

This email reveals just how brutal some of these sororities can be to their members—even if unintentionally. The email contains detailed "Sorority Appearance Guidelines," telling the members how they should wear their hair, do their eyebrows, wear Spanx, and more. Buzzfeed writes, "The women must have at least eight items of makeup on, and if it’s not up to par, the sorority chair will 'stop you and apply it myself,' whether you’re late for class or not." Apparently, the email attempted to provide instructions to the girls so that they would never be “less beautiful than they actually are.”

How can you have the audacity to write a letter like this to so many girls, some of whom may suffer from low-esteem and the rest of whom will likely experience negative self image after reading? How can you bash them about their definitions of beauty and claim that you are only trying to “help them be more beautiful”? Requiring make up, insisting the members exercise, suggesting they shouldn't wear glasses? What era are we living in?

The part about girls making sure they wear Spanx irritates me the most. The email says, “I cannot stress how important Spanx are to make you look your best. Even if you are very thin, Spanx will give you a better ‘line’ when you wear clothes (no awkward bumps!) Plus you don’t have to worry about sucking in all the time or being bloated!” It’s comments like these that contribute to low self esteem, and create narrow definitions of beauty. Don’t get me wrong, I love my Spanx, but to make it seem like girls have to wear them to be beautiful is absurd.

Stop. Rewind. What if instead of a step-by-step guide to looking beautiful, we send a step-by-step guide to loving yourself and embracing your own personal beauty? That’s what makes the organization diverse, unique, and a great symbol to women across campus. 

I think a sorority can be a lot more beautiful and life-changing when a group of women come together and tell each other that they don’t have to look a certain way to be beautiful. I mean, could you imagine the impact that sororities could have on the lives of thousands of women across the country by telling them to love themselves? It would be revolutionary. All it takes is one sorority or fraternity to make the change.

What are your thoughts on this? Would love for you to share them with me!

About this blogger: Twenty-five-year-old Ashley M. Williams is the founder and CEO of RIZZARR! She is also a multimedia journalist. Whether she is traveling the world or highlighting today’s news coverage, Williams is deeply driven and enthusiastic about persistently using journalism and social media to inform and inspire others to initiate positive changes in the world.

Photo courtesy of Buzzfeed

Also by Ashley:

Love Yourself: Seeking Help Isn't Optional. It's Necessary.

Can Toys Really Play a Role In Self-Acceptance?

Unbinding Myself From Myself

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